As part of the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ESPN will present Content of Character — a weeklong series of original programming, vignettes and interstitials celebrating the life and contributions of the civil rights leader — across many of its programs and platforms. The Content of Character series began today, Monday, Jan. 9, and will end on the national holiday Monday, Jan. 16.
“As a company, we are proud to celebrate Dr. King’s holiday and provide thoughtful content with this annual initiative,” said Charita Johnson, ESPN vice president, production migration strategy. “Dr. King’s legacy transcends the social and political aspects of the civil rights movement. It is equally relevant in the sports world today.”
The week will be highlighted by the Friday, Jan. 13, debut Content of Character presented by Red Tails — a one-hour discussion exploring Dr. King’s impact through the lens of sports — at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN (re-airs Sunday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. on ESPN2, and Monday, Jan. 16, at 9 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. on ESPN Classic).
Highlights of the weeklong initiative:
Content of Character presented by Red Tails (ESPN, Friday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m.)
ESPN’s award-winning host Bob Ley moderates a roundtable of panelists Jemele Hill (ESPN commentator), Steve Buckley (Boston Herald), Isabel Wilkerson (author), Jalen Rose (former NBA player and current ESPN analyst) and Richard Lapchick (founder of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society), discussing the legacy of Dr. King and how it impacts sports in America today.
Photos (password: MLK)
Photos (password: MLK)
The open to Content of Character will be voiced by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, Red Tails), merging original audio of memorable speeches and images of Dr. King with current and past sports figures to offer a fresh yet retrospective look at the civil rights leader and his timeless contributions to sports and society at large.
The one-hour program will build conversations around three primary features:
- Education: E:60 – ESPN’s award-winning prime time newsmagazine – reporter Lisa Salters follows Kareem Rosser’s unusual and surprising journey, from learning to play polo in inner-city of Philadelphia to winning a national championship and earning a scholarship to Cornell University;
- Equality – Is homosexuality the new civil rights?: Salters profiles female boxer Christy Martin facing the challenges of life, first as a married heterosexual athlete and now as a gay professional athlete;
- Leadership – Hank Aaron’s story: An in-depth profile of the Baseball Hall of Famer and former home run king Hank Aaron, beginning with his childhood, playing minor league baseball in the South, being accepted as a young star with the Milwaukee Braves, impact of relocating the Braves franchise to Atlanta in the mid-1960s, and breaking of Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.
Outside the Lines (ESPN – Thursday, Jan. 12, and Friday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m.)
ESPN’s award-winning, investigative news and information program Outside the Lines with host Ley will include a series of segments celebrating Dr. King’s holiday and the civil rights leader’s impact.
SportsCenter (ESPN, Thursday, Jan. 12 – Monday, Jan. 16)
The ESPN flagship news and information program will feature Content of Character vignettes including interviews with athletes, coaches, and analysts sharing what Dr. King means to them. During the weekday morning (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.) editions, SportsCenter will air features on Dr. King’s influence in sports, namely through social responsibility, education, image of the black athlete, and more.
Content of Character on ESPN Social & Digital Media
- Live ESPN.com chat (Friday, Jan. 13, from 7 – 8:15 p.m.): Michael Smith (host, ESPN2’s Numbers Never Lie), ESPN.com’s LZ Granderson, ESPNLosAngeles.com reporter Ramona Shelburne and Rob King, senior vice president, editorial, ESPN Digital & Print Media, will host a live chat concurrent with original presentation of the one-hour Content of Character program on ESPN;
- Content of Character Aftershow (Friday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m.): At the conclusion of the television program, ESPN commentators Jemele Hill and Stephen A. Smith will co-host Content of Character Aftershow – a live digital video and fan engagement program on ESPN.com’s Martin Luther King Jr. index and ESPN Facebook pages. The live stream will give fans an opportunity to ask questions and join the conversation (#contentofcharacter);
- Additionally, ESPN.com and ESPNDeportes.com will launch a special Martin Luther King Jr. page with online video, features, a community page, additional Content of Character vignettes, and more.
ESPN will offer a special NBA telecast on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. when the Chicago Bulls and reigning league MVP Derrick Rose visit the Memphis Grizzlies and Rudy Gay. Memphis is the home of the National Civil Rights Museum and Rose played college basketball at the University of Memphis.
College Basketball Programming
Starting with ESPN and ESPN2’s Super Tuesday schedule (January 10) through the King holiday Monday, Jan. 16, each college basketball game on ESPN and ESPN2 will include one element tied to the schools or the cities of the schools to honor Dr. King and the weeklong celebration.
- Contextual video clips will be incorporated into ESPN’s programming throughout the King holiday Monday, Jan. 16;
- The 15 English and five Spanish language vignettes, testimonials about Dr. King’s legacy, will be aired across ESPN English-language television networks, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes Radio.